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Some time ago I purchased a trip from a leading tour operator in Germany (I’m resident of a close-by country).

They asked me to provide them with a credit/debit card details so they can collect €1000 fee. Their payment processing time is weird and was taking several days. Initially I provided them with a card “A” (linked to bank “account-A” in my local currency), then two days later I asked them to actually switch and use card “B” instead (linked to “account-B” in EUR currency).

Now what happened:

  1. I was charged the correct €1000 fee on “account-B” ✅
  2. At the same time my “account-A” was credited equivalent of €1000 🔴. My bank converted this amount to my local currency and took significant part of it (currency exchange spread).

It clearly seems the company responsible for charging my card incorrectly returned me €1000 on “account-A”, while collecting €1000 from “account-B” at the same time.

Now, after a long period of time, this Tour Operator sent me physical letters stating that I owe them €1000. I responded by email explaining what happened (like above), and that I’m happy to return them €1000 minus currency-exchange fees that my bank has taken (let’s say it’s €900).

  1. They didn’t understand my explanation, claimed it’s a problem of my bank which I should resolve on my own, and that I still owe them €1000.
  2. They don’t answer phone calls, and respond to emails with 30-days delay (making communication very hard).
  3. In the meantime they sent me yet another physical letter with charges for an “extra reminder”.

What shall I do?

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    Are you saying that your bank took 90% of the payment as a “currency-exchange fee”? – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Oct 7 at 21:32
  • Did you contact your bank? – Hart CO Oct 7 at 22:03
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    Did you ever get charged on card A, or did you effectively get a free trip (ignoring the conversion fees)? If you were charged on both A and B, and then refunded on A, then they're clearly in the wrong. If you were charged once on B and then had that amount refunded on A, then you really do owe them money, and it's just a question of how much. – Bobson Oct 7 at 23:19
  • @BenMiller-RememberMonica No, my bank took 10% (high currency exchange fees). I don't remember what exactly was the percentage, but overall sum is not small. – tourist Oct 8 at 8:44
  • @HartCO no, because I believe they did everything right. – tourist Oct 8 at 8:44
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So you both did sometime wrong here. You first gave the wrong payment details and then you did not contact them when you received the credit on card A, from which you where never charged. They send you a credit for card A despite never really charging you on it in the first place.

One question is, what would have happened, had they already charged you on card A when you requested to change payment to card B. I guess you would have got you money back the same, and would have had to swallow the conversion fee.

What I would try: Immediately pay the €900 you received erroneously and at the same time send them a letter where you argue that their mistake to reimburse you on card A has induced charges (provide proof) and you will not stand up for those charges as you already payed for the trip with card B (provide proof).

Caution though, IANAL - If you are interested in the legalese, maybe the law stack exchange would be a better place to ask.

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